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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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I

WHEN one is in China, one is compelled to think about her,
with compassion always, with despair sometimes, and with
discrimination and understanding very rarely. For one either
loves or hates China. Perhaps even when one does not live in
China one sometimes thinks of her as an old, great big country
which remains aloof from the world and does not quite belong
to it. That aloofness has a certain fascination. But if one
comes to China, one feels engulfed and soon stops thinking.
One merely feels she is there, a tremendous existence some-
what too big for the human mind to encompass, a seemingly
inconsequential chaos obeying its own laws of existence and
enacting its own powerful life-drama, at times tragic, at times
comical, but always intensely and boisterously real; then after
awhile, one begins to think again, with wonder and amazement.
This time, the reaction will be temperamental; it merely
indicates whether one is a romantic cosmopolitan individual
or a conceited, self-satisfied prig, one either, likes or dislikes
China, and then proceeds to justify one's likes or dislikes. That
is just as well, for we must take some sort of attitude toward
China to justify ourselves as intelligent beings. We grope
for reasons, and begin to tell one another little anecdotes,
trifles of everyday life, escaped or casual words of conversation,
things of tremendous importance that make us philosophers
and enable us to become, with great equanimity, either her
implacable critics, allowing nothing good for her, or else her
ardent, romantic admirers. Of course, these generalizations are
rather silly. But that is how human opinions are formed all over
the world, and it is unavoidable. Then we set about arguing
with one another. Some always come out from the argument
supremely satisfied of their Tightness, self-assured that they
have an opinion of China and of the Chinese people. They